Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki (1040-1105), pre-eminent rabbinic commentator known by the acronym, Rashi. His commentary on the Five Books of Moses is studied till today by almost every Jewish child and adult, layman and scholar alike. And his monumental commentary on the Talmud, which appears in every standard edition, is the basis upon which nearly all Talmud study is based. Rashi lived in France, where his grandchildren composed the Tosfot commentary on the Talmud, which is second only to Rashi in being indispensable for a proper understanding of the text. Amazingly, Rashi accomplished all his work during the period of the Crusades, when life was extremely dangerous for the Jews. Just as amazing, Rashi made his living as a wine merchant, and wrote rabbinic commentaries in his spare time. Incidentally, Rashi's commentaries are the primary source of information for the study of French language and culture in the Middle Ages. The recent 900th anniversary of his death was widely commemorated in France, with public ceremonies, conferences, and a postage stamp issued in his honor.
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